A Minnesota lawmaker wants his colleagues to stop taking the increased daily expense payments they voted themselves last year, at least until a court can determine whether the increase violates the state Constitution.
Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan, introduced on Monday a resolution that would reduce so-called per-diem payments -- now $77 in the House and $96 in the Senate -- to 2007 levels. The payments had been $66 per day.
Buesgens, who did not accept the increase, said his actions come as a result of a citizens group's lawsuit, which contends legislators have unlawfully paid themselves by raising daily compensation payments and accepting daily living expenses without being required to justify their expenses. The suit, filed in Ramsey County District Court, says the actions of the legislators violate the state Constitution and argues that legislators who have accepted the most recent per-diem raises should return the additional payments or be declared ineligible to run for reelection.
"With the lawsuit in front of us, things are in doubt," Buesgens said.
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, who did accept the increase, supported Buesgens' measure and distributing photocopies of a check he wrote to the Ramsey County Court on Monday for $1,400, the amount he calculated as his increase from the raise.